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As one of Bennett's most senior and most long-term employees, Kerley says that she has adjusted to her boss's fast-paced management style. "The people (like Bennett) who have a strong vision and a strong outward personality, that's sometimes the challenge, and adapting," says Kerley. "In every workplace, you have to figure out how to adapt your style to fit the style of the people you work with, if you're going to be successful, anywhere."
But Torey Malatia, general manager of WBEZ in Chicago, says that in public radio, managers have to adapt to employees. Having worked in print media and commercial radio, Malatia says that public radio requires an inclusive and collegial approach in which decisions are mulled over as a group.
Why? "This isn't the lucrative job at the end of the rainbow for someone who's looking to really make a killing professionally," Malatia says. "For many broadcast professionals, public radio is still sort of like being marooned on a desert island. You don't really have a huge audience; you don't have a decent salary; you don't have great opportunities to advance in huge corporate structures, where you can jump from radio station to radio station making more and more money. What attracts you to public radio is ... very much more a personal passion.
"And secondly, as a result, public radio attracts people who are very smart, and very thoughtful, and really are very creative folks, and they really have a lot to offer. Not that commercial-radio people don't. But I think that public-radio folks are likely to think about the whole station and its service and what it's trying to do, rather than just the job that they were hired to do.... Those things mean that you're dealing with a more enfranchised kind of individual."
For her part, Bennett fancies herself a management expert. Among the few books on her office shelves are the Human Resources Policy Manualand Employee Problem Solver. She says she hopes to write her own book on how to deal with employees, and she's already got the title picked out: The Right to Manage. "If (managers) were hired to manage, they have the right to manage," she says. "When you're challenged, if you need to be tough, it's OK to be tough.... But I don't think you have to be hard, either. I think it just depends on the circumstance and the people involved. Some people like to bully managers, and I don't think it's a professional thing to do, to bully managers and get them to retreat. I don't think that's fair, either."
Tired from a week of early-morning fundraising, Bennett's guard is down. With each question, she becomes more at ease. Just for a moment, the spin doctor is out. So what kind of manager is she?
She leans back in her chair and squints her eyes, and just for a moment her voice drops with the weight of sincerity: "I'm a driver." BY SUSAN KELLEY Bennett on the job: "Some people like to bully managers, and I don't think it's a professional thing to do, to bully managers and get them to retreat. I don't think that's fair, either." Former KWMU news director Lester Graham: "I've had bad bosses before, but they've all had a certain degree of reason and logic about them, and you may disagree with the decisions they made, but you understand why they made them and you go on. This is not like that." "If managers were hired to manage, they have the right
to manage," Bennett says. "When you're challenged, if you
need to be tough, it's OK to be tough.... But I don't think
you have to be hard, either."AirForceShe's been called bubbly, boisterous and bizarre. How Patty Bennett helped turn KWMU into a public-radio powerhouse, and why former staffers think she's hell to work for.
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